Weekly Feature



2017-04-06 / Sports

Offseason work could be key for young West boys lax team

by JASON NADOLINSKI
Reporter


West Seneca West’s Austin Mascio, right, a returning Class B Second Team all-star, helped the boys lacrosse team open its 2017 season victoriously Friday by scoring a pair of goals in the team’s 8-2 triumph over Amherst. 
File photo by John NormilePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com West Seneca West’s Austin Mascio, right, a returning Class B Second Team all-star, helped the boys lacrosse team open its 2017 season victoriously Friday by scoring a pair of goals in the team’s 8-2 triumph over Amherst. File photo by John NormilePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com With just five players gone from a team that went 6-10 last season, West Seneca West’s boys lacrosse squad is looking toward the spring as an opportunity to do better.

And with a good number of the young team members having already put in long hours working on their game during the offseason, there’s no reason why the Indians can’t improve on last season’s effort.

“This year’s group is very motivated and goal-oriented,” coach Bob Tulowiecki said. “A lot of these athletes did things in the offseason to be better, and after we had some success last year that we hadn’t had as a program in a while, the guys are looking to build off of that.”

The Indians will be tackling a split schedule against Class A and Class B schools during the regular season, with Tulowiecki anticipating the toughest tests coming from Hamburg, Niagara Wheatfield, West Seneca East, Orchard Park, Clarence and Frontier — all teams he said “we’re going to need to respect” because “as a program, we aren’t in position to take a day off against anyone.”

West made sure it wasn’t asleep on the job when it opened its regular season Friday against Amherst, as the Indians cruised to an 8-2 victory over the Tigers after having their two previous attempts to start the 2017 campaign washed out. Following preseason scrimmages against Canisius and Medina in which the Indians were able to prepare for Friday’s opener, West was able to make the most of its third time on a full field after getting out to a slow 1-1 start in the first quarter. Goals began to flow a little more freely after the opening quarter, some of which were scored on man-up opportunities, but many of which came about off broken plays.

Senior co-captain Brendan Tait, a returning Class B First Team all-star, led the way for West with four goals and an assist. Senior co-captain Austin Mascio, a returning Class B Second Team all-star, and junior Jesse Broad, a returning Class B Honorable Mention all-star, each added two goals to West’s tally.

Junior goalie Dayton Eck finished with eight saves to record the win in net for West.

“We were a little nervous at the start of the game as far as our riding and clearing aspects were concerned, but we made some good defensive stops early that helped us shake off the rust,” Tulowiecki said. “We stuck to the game plan and got some goals in what turned out to be a fairly scrappy game. And it was nice to see Dayton come up as big as he did in net. It was a really strong performance for his first varsity start.”

West wasn’t as fortunate in its return to action Monday against Grand Island, as even a quick 4-0 lead proved not to be enough in what was ultimately a 9-7 setback for the Indians. West mustered a 5-4 halftime lead, thanks to a score with one second to play in the half, but the Vikings found a way to pull away in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.

“Grand Island was a super tight game,” Tulowiecki said. “We actually had a ton of offensive looks, but their goalie had a really strong game. They had some really good players who did really well in the second half of the game for them.”

Broad led the way for West on the day with four goals, while Mascio chipped in with two goals. Tate added a goal of his own for the Indians.

Tait, Mascio and Broad should be among the team’s most trusted veteran players. Also in that group of veteran players looking to lead the way for West this season are defenders Colin Deubell (junior), Luke Wilhelm (junior), Josh Wilson (sophomore) and Jeb Braunsheidel (freshman long-stick middie), defensive midfielders Sean McCarthy (senior) and Parker Leemer (junior), and attacker Evan Sherk (sophomore).

Another junior, Brad Claycomb, is battling for time in the starting rotation on defense, while freshman Steven Lucas is in the same type of mix on attack.

Eck and fellow junior Zac Bostwick, meanwhile, are battling with sophomore Dan Cantafio to earn the starter’s role in net.

“We’re still a young team with a large junior presence on the roster, but at the same time, we’re a lot more of an athletic offense than we’ve been in years past,” Tulowiecki said. “We just need to keep working hard every day, keep the right mentality about what it takes to be successful, and be humble with the good and learn from the bad.”

West (1-1 overall) was scheduled to return to action Tuesday against North Tonawanda, but information about that contest was not available at press time. The Indians close out the pre-break portion of their schedule this afternoon by hosting Lancaster, and then don’t play again until they travel to Williamsville East on April 19.

“We just want to be competitive this year and play a solid four quarters of lacrosse,” Tulowiecki said. “We especially want to win those games that we may have lost by a couple of goals in years past.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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